Possibly you are a like me, a “party animal.” No, no, not the same party animal I was 30 some years ago. A political party animal is one who thrives on the inner workings of the political vehicle. You enjoy so many things the general public doesn’t see. You take pleasure in milestones that never see the light of day; you suffer setbacks, which thankfully also don’t see the light of day. You get to giggle or cringe as you read the media's interpretation of the things that are in the lime light.
Probably though, one of the most satisfying aspects of being a party animal, is meeting the actual people (members and supporters) who form what your party is all about. They are what give you life. They share their wisdom, their time and their money. Members do this throughout the year, behind the scenes and generally away from the peering eyes of the public.
Once a year however your members will gather at an AGM. Often there is a packed agenda. Policy wonks will finally see their creations debated and voted on by members. Campaign geeks will likely take part in election readiness sessions and share their wisdom. The process junkies will rub elbows with MLAs and hope it’s enough to carry them over till the Leg sits again. New Executive Boards are elected to carry you through the next year and often there is a leadership review.
It’s the one chance you get each year to demonstrate to members the progress you have made and to celebrate all the small victories of the past year. It’s also when the media can get an intimate look at a party, beyond the Leader and the MLAs.
I, along with support from many volunteers; have had the pleasure (or is it onerous task) of planning several of these events in the past. Attendance is in brackets.
2006 AAP AGM (75 +/-)
2007 AAP AGM (75 +/-)
2007 AAP Policy Convention (50 +/-)
2008 AAP / WRP SGM (165)
2008 WAP AGM (150)
2009 WAP AGM (225)
Naturally I’ve been drawn to watching how the other parties handle their AGMs. When the PC’s had their 2009 one, last November the media was Tweeting about it, bloggers were posting their perspective and there were plenty of articles in the various papers. The average Albertan had no problem finding information on it.
This weekend the Liberals (the official opposition) are holding their AGM and finding information on this has been as hard as…. well as hard as finding a Liberal in Alberta.
So far there have been a few Tweets, a couple of them confirming attendance at about 200. On Friday my new Liberal buddy, Vincent St. Pierre also blogged that they were expecting 200.
From what I’ve been told 200 delegates are showing up from all around Alberta (only 25 short of the Progressive Conservative’s policy convention a while back), so it is going to be very interesting and very fun.
Once again he is fabricating information. First he is comparing the Liberal AGM & Policy Convention to a PC convention that was strictly for Policy. (Apples and oranges) Regardless, the number at the PC Policy event was report to be 500; that would be 300 more, not 25. A more accurate comparison would be the PC AGM which had nearly 1200.
Or he could just substitute “Progressive Conservatives” with “Wildrose Alliance” and it would indeed be a factual statement. He tweeted that he would blog last night, so far nothing for me to dissect.
As for actual media articles the count is at two. First from Archie McLean on the Warren Kinsella wisdom delivered to the assembly. I guess no one filled Kinsella in on the Glenmore by-election. And the second, from the Edmonton Journal as well, an editorial. “Diss the media”; great advice….Not.
In Alberta it is incredibly hard to reach the average citizen. Even the PC’s struggle with communication and they have unlimited resources at hand. Your choices are limited by money, volunteers and your message. Not many parties can afford full page ads in every paper; nor does every party have a troop of volunteers in every constituency.
That leaves you with your message and who delivers that? For the most part it is via the media. A lot of people start forming their opinions of political parties on what they read and see in the media. It’s that coverage that prompts them to the next steps; looking at your website, going to a local meeting, joining and on and on. Regardless of whether the media agrees or disagrees with you; they have the power to reach many Albertans and get them thinking.
Edited to add: Dave Cournoyer has also blogged on this.